Legislative update from Sen. Berger

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 was the historic first day of the 2011-2012 legislative session. For the first time since 1870, Republicans now lead both chambers in the North Carolina General Assembly. I was humbled and honored to be elected by my colleagues as President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate. On the other side of the Legislative Building, my friend Thom Tillis was elected Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. We assume leadership positions at a time of great challenges and understand the tremendous responsibility the voters have placed on our shoulders by electing us to serve.

Opening day also marked the official swearing-in of all members of the North Carolina General Assembly and many constituents, friends, and family members were present to take part in history. Our new Senate includes 15 new members from the mountains to the coast including 13 Republicans. I have full confidence that each of our new members will govern fairly, efficiently and thoughtfully. They have already been working hard at addressing the major issues in North Carolina.

The list of important goals for the Senate is long. However, our primary task must be to address a $3.7 billion budget deficit if we expect to see private sector job growth resume in our state. Our population is growing but job creation in North Carolina is simply not keeping pace. Constant overspending, over-taxing and over-regulating are killing jobs and driving employers elsewhere. In order to revitalize our economy, we must fix our budget and reduce the overall size of state government. State government and state employees will have to do more with less. It’s not going to be easy, but streamlining state government will pay dividends in the long run. Click here to view a segment about the budget situation on the television program, NC Spin.

Another important objective the Senate plans to address soon is to lift the cap on charter schools. Doing so will increase the educational opportunities for North Carolina children and allow parents the option to choose a school that best meets the needs of their kids.

On the House side, Republicans are working on the Health Care Protection Act, which according to Speaker Tillis will “send a clear message to Washington that the federal health care law must be repealed and replaced with a fiscally-sustainable alternative.” In addition, they plan to introduce legislation requiring state voters to present identification cards every time they vote in order to prevent fraud.

The 2011-2011 legislative session promises to be one of unparalleled importance. Lawmakers have the opportunity to solve many longstanding problems. We look forward to working with all of our state’s elected officials to move our state toward growth, greater opportunity, and a better quality of life for all North Carolinians.

Phil Berger

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